Friday, July 3, 2009

To Addis and Back (Part 6) Visiting Charlie's "orphanage"

On our last full day the traveling families got to go and see the care center where our children had spent the last months, or in some cases years. I left Charlie with my mother for several reasons: 1) I didn't want Charlie to think she was returning to the care center for good. 2) I didn't want her to see her main nanny and have to go through a second seperation trauma. 3) My mother had already been to the care center in March so didn't need to go see it again. I'm glad I made this decision, as other families/parents brought their kids along and it was unsettling to see their reactions. I think they all survived it with minimal scars, but I'm just glad I left Charlie with mom. Plus, it gave them a chance to bond a bit, and surprise, surprise, when I'm not around, she is perfectly happy to spend time with her grandmother!

We took a rickety old van on unpaved roads for 30 minutes outside of Addis, passing typical sights of the 3rd world... a skeletal cow grazing on mud (poor thing) on the highway curb, a man lying on the sidewalk either dead or asleep (with 100's of people walking by not giving him a second thought), people in rags squatting on the sidewalk over a kettle, mother's breastfeeding naked babes while sitting on the curb.....

Finally we drove up to the IAG care center gates and the driver honked. The gates opened and the nannies and kiddos were all waiting for us! They were so happy to be reunited with their charges and friends. The kids all gave us the three cheeked kiss in welcome (they do it silently, more like a cheek touch rather than a kiss, while I did it the American way and made MWUAH sounds which got the kids giggling and imitating me ;-)

We saw the infant room where Charlie spent her first 9 months. It was clean and there was no smell at all. The nannies were delighted to meet me once they heard I was Worke's mom. They were also very grateful for the pictures of her I passed out to everyone. The nannies were awesome. They were so loving with the infants, and picked them up the second they started crying.

We were taking so many pictures of the children (for waiting families at home) that it seriously looked like Brad and Angie had stepped out on the red carpet at Oscar time. The babies looked a little shell shocked from all the flashes, but they were resilient and survived the onslaught.

Some of the waiting families had sent over photo albums with us to give to their waiting kids. I took video of several children thumbing through their albums with wonder at seeing their new mommies and daddies and sisters and brothers faces. Upon return I uploaded the videos online for the parents to see, with about 400 photos.

A sound of Ethiopian music drifted down from upstairs and a little boy invited me to come up, so I did. I walked into a room of older kids who had spontaneously started dancing around in a circle! There was an Ethiopian music video playing on the TV, and the kids, ranging in ages from 12 to 4 were dancing in the Ethiopian style, shimmying their shoulders and making jerky motions. They invited their audience to join them and some some of us were in the circle, looking ridiculous, but having fun with them :-) Then I played games with a couple of them, blowing in their ears and making them giggle.

We had a traditional coffee ceremony, which produced such dark coffee that my throat felt like ash the rest of the day!

After that we said our goodbyes. The kiddos gave me heartfelt MWUAHS! all the way to the gate. It was a great day. I was happy to see how joyful the children were, considering their circumstances.

I have a ton of great pictures of this day, but I cannot post them as they are of other families' children.

1 comment:

elena said...

what a great thing Mika! So nice that the nannies take such good care of the kids. elena